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Endorsement Rescinded On Election Day

Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco, Democrat Michelle Ostrelich
Lucas Willard/WAMC
Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco, Democrat Michelle Ostrelich

On this Election Day, there has been a big development in one New York state Senate race.

In an unprecedented move, the Albany Times Union pulled its endorsement for longtime Capital Region Republican legislator Senator Jim Tedisco.

After interviewing Tedisco, who is running for re-election in the 49th district, the Times Union's editorial board concluded Tedisco favored codifying Roe v. Wade in state law.

The paper subsequently said it had just learned Tedisco actually opposes abortion.

In the Monday editorial, entitled "Mr. Tedisco, reconsidered" the TU said it's hard to reconcile Tedisco's contention that there was some sort of a "miscommunication" with its board, a stance Tedisco reiterated this morning.    "I'd rather stand up for life and for children, I've been pro-life my entire career, than have an endorsement from any paper. The fact of the matter is, at first, when I saw all of my party, not one individual from my political affiliation was endorsed, when I got the endorsement and they used abortion as an issue of why they would endorse me, I kinda was shocked. I thought 'why would they say something like that?' Maybe as an excuse to be able to endorse me? But as I think through it, probably a miscommunication with the interview process that we were going through with the Times Union."

Times Union editor Rex Smith:   "We have never before to my knowledge withdrawn an editorial endorsement, let alone do so on Election Day. So we were faced with an extraordinary circumstance. What the editorial board heard Senator Jim Tedisco say does not square with what he was subsequently telling interest groups on the right-to-life side. So we felt  that it was inappropriate for us to sustain our editorial endorsement, which we are repeating in the Tuesday editions of the paper, when it was based upon, let's say, a misunderstanding of his views."

Here's what Tedisco said one week ago, quizzed about women's reproductive rights during avoter forum in Clifton Park.   "Well first of all, I support reproductive health care. The fact of the matter is that this bill is not about reproductive health care. That is settled right now. It is settled by the Supreme Court. It's very unlikely you're not gonna change nationally it's not gonna change in New York state. What it's going to change with this bill, it's very condescending to talk about this bill, it's about abortion rights and codification. What this bill would do is add to that codification. And you've always come to this conclusion. Pro-life or pro-choice. If it's legal we want to make it safe for the mother. This bill makes it unsafe for — the mother. It allows non-professionals, non-trained medical people, non-doctors, to do abortions."

The paper is now backing Democrat Michelle Osterlich, who believes Tedisco deliberately misled the paper just to get their endorsement, which he let stand for a week.   "After he was called out did he reach out to an anti-choice PAC to say that he would never support the Reproductive Health Act, which was a complete contradiction to his statements to the Times Union.  And now, he wants to blame the messenger for his lack of integrity. The fact that this concerns women's reproductive rights, an issue that so many care deeply about, only compunds the problem."

Tedisco says apparently not enough questions were asked and understood and clarified.  "I'd rather have my positions be honest than have an endorsement. And by the way, I got a sterling endorsement from our hometown paper, the Schenectady Gazette, who said I'm scrappy and always stand up for the needs of my constituents. So you can't get a better endorsement than that."

Polls are open until 9.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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